Inevitably, as the year comes to a close, I begin reflecting on my year of reading. Then, of course, I simply must write a “year in review” post. And so, here we are. For the third year in a row, I’ve clocked in at 80 books, somewhere in the neighborhood of 24,500 pages, and an average rating of 3.6 out of 5. Well, I’m nothing if not consistent! My top 5 books each garnered a rare 5-star rating, except for the Zweig, which was the best of a long list of memorable 4.5-star reads (links will take you to my reviews):
- South Riding, by Winifred Holtby
- Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
- The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton
- Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
- The Post-Office Girl, by Stephan Zweig
And my year in review wouldn’t be the same without graphs! My trusty reading spreadsheet produced four lovely graphs, and since they take up a lot of space I’ve put them in a nifty slideshow. Click on the image below to open it in a new window:
As you can see, I usually read 5-7 books per month, except for July, which was unprecedented! Very few books came in at less than 3 stars; I like to think that’s more about being selective than about being an “easy grader.” My typical read was just over 300 pages, and in general my 2010 reading was more chunky than in 2009. I also read far more books by women than men, surpassing 2009’s already-lopsided 66%/34% ratio.
But it’s not all about the numbers. On a more qualitative note, below are a few “reading superlatives” in a format borrowed from other bloggers, most notably Verity (as always, click on links to read my reviews):
- Best Book: Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain. I was completely blown away by Brittain’s first-hand account of life at the front during World War I, and amazed at her ability to cope with such tremendous tragedy and grief.
- Worst Book: The Old Devils, by Kingsley Amis. I disliked this so much, it doesn’t even merit a few more words here.
- Most Disappointing Book: Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope. Given my reading tastes, I should have enjoyed this book. It still bugs me that I didn’t. I found it too slow-moving and because it was a really long book, I just gave up.
- Most Surprising Book (in a good way): When Everything Changed, by Gail Collins. While I was sure I’d like this book, I didn’t expect to be recommending it to all and sundry for weeks after. I even interrupted a ladies’ room conversation with two women I’d only just met, simply to tell them about this book!
- Favorite New (to me) Author: Winifred Holtby. This is partly because Holtby was Vera Brittain’s dear friend, and partly because South Riding was so amazingly good. Holtby is now on my “must read everything” list.
- Favorite Cover: this one’s a tie. I can’t decide between The Lacuna and Lady Audley’s Secret. The Kingsolver is so gorgeously floral. I also love pre-Raphaelite art, and the portrait is true to the description of Lady Audley.
- Most Memorable Character: Undine Spragg, in Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country. As I wrote in my review, “Beautiful, vapid, self-centered, ambitious, money-grubbing … need I say more? She’s thoroughly despicable, but so well-drawn … ” She was the driving force behind this book, and utterly fascinating.
- Most Beautifully Written Book: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. This is a “love it or hate it book,” and some have found it too slow for their taste. I thought it was magnificent, and the pacing essential to delivering its profound messages.
- Book that had the Greatest Impact on me: Again, Testament of Youth. This was one of the most moving and powerful books I’ve ever read, and one I will never forget. It left so many thoughts and feelings rattling around in my head that I had to follow my review with a Remembrance Day post.
- Book I Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2010 to Read: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. This is one of those “books about books” that everyone talks about. I was afraid it would fall short of all the hype, but I was wrong. It was simply delightful.
So that’s it — another year done & dusted. Please leave a comment with your choices for any of the 10 “reading superlatives.” And I’ll be back in the coming days with 2011 resolutions and a little “blogiversary” celebration.